Paper prepared for Korea Society of International Economic Law (KSIEL) International Conference on “Trade and Global Governance: A Panoramic View of Free Trade Agreements and the WTO,” November 6-7, 2014, Novotel Ambassador Gangnam, Seoul, Korea.


In the wake of the impasse between the World Trade Organization (WTO) and India regarding the ratification of the Protocol to the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) that concluded during the Ninth WTO Ministerial Conference in Bali, Indonesia on December of 2013, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo admitted that while the WTO succeeds in resolving trade disputes and monitoring trade practices, it “has failed to deliver new multilateral results since its creation.” This systemic failure in the trade negotiations pillar of the WTO is evident to all of its 160 Members. It is evident from thirteen years of stalled negotiations under the Doha Round; the inability of the WTO to encourage agreements between developing and developed countries on the Doha Development Agenda; the contemporaneous proliferation of around 585 regional trade agreements (RTAs) which, at best, have not facilitated any apparent global agreement under the Doha Round; and (more recently) India’s demand for permanent changes to WTO rules to avoid sanctioning developing countries’ food security policies. While many WTO Members have publicly criticized India for unfairly holding the TFA hostage, other powerful Green Room members at the WTO have maintained silence over India’s concerns on food security other than to affirm the devastating consequences of failing to ratify the TFA. These members maintain this silence even in light of economic and policy grounds that may well publicly demonstrate the critical importance to India that its continued participation in global trade under multilateral trading rules would have in ensuring cheaper access to food for India’s population and, ultimately, higher wages for India’s poorest.